Execution push continues in New York

Janet Reno recently gave the go-ahead to Mary Jo White, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York State, to seek the death penalty against three separate defendants. This would be the first time in more than 40 years that a person could be punished with death under federal laws in New York. The last federal case tried in New York was in 1954, when the state killed Gerhard Puff for his involvement in the death of an FBI agent. More famously, though, was the Rosenberg case that preceded it in 1953. During the height of Cold War hysteria, the US government executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for their supposed service to the Soviet Union in providing atomic secrets.

In addition to the defendants who are being tried under federal death penalty statutes, various New York State district attorneys have announced they will seek the death penalty against a total of 17 different people. This is an astonishing number, given that the death penalty was only reinstated in New York two years ago. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty has conducted a number of petition drives to ask that the threat of death be removed in these cases, and has met with a great deal of support in the New York area. It is urgent that we organize a vocal movement to roll back the death penalty before a single one of these defendants receives a sentence.